Next phase of downtown makeover takes shape

The next phase of what may very well one day become known as the Winnsboro Renaissance got under way Aug. 30 as members of the various transition teams that will be advising Christ Central Ministries during the makeover of the former Fairfield Country Club met at the club to begin formulating the master plan.

“Tonight we will be forming teams to think through the possibilities,” Pastor Jimmy Jones told the more than 50 people who turned out for the meeting.

The group split into six teams: the Commerce Advisory team, Facility, Food and Hospitality team, Country Club Campus Activity Advisory team, Golf Course Advisory team, Education and Schools team and the Transition Advisory team. Jones said the Transition Advisory team would be collecting information from the other teams and forwarding it to the Christ Central Missions Division in Aiken, which would in turn assist the community in accomplishing its goals.

“We will help you do anything,” Jones said, “but we won’t do anything for you.”

The goal is to transform Winnsboro into a place that can accommodate the Drew Blair School of Art, which, according to the school’s namesake, can be up and running in town in two years or less.

“In six years, we look to have 1,500 students,” Drew Blair said, “which would require some 300,000 square feet of space. By the fourth year, we could have enough students to start writing checks to start restoring the Mt. Zion building.”

Growing into the Mt. Zion campus from the Country Club, via Congress Street, is the ultimate goal for the Blair School, but in order for that to happen, Winnsboro has to be prepared for 80 students in the school’s first year, 200 in the second year and 500 in the third year.

“Suppose we had 250 students ready to come to the Blair School of Art tomorrow,” Jones speculated. “There would be nowhere for them to sleep, nowhere for them to eat, nowhere to take classes.”

What the various teams are charged with, Jones said, is devising a master plan that would prepare Winnsboro for this eventual influx of art students. The Commerce team, in particular, began reviewing the potential available square footage along Congress Street and will outline the kind of businesses necessary to support a growing college campus.

In addition to the art college, the Country Club may eventually house a culinary school in the remodeled kitchen area, which may also double as a public restaurant. There was also some speculation by Clay Bolton, who serves on Christ Central’s Education Division Board and teaches sports management at the University of South Carolina, that with the Country Club’s golf and pro shop facilities a partnership of some kind could be arranged with the university’s sports management program.

The teams will come together again on Sept. 30 at the Country Club. Anyone interested in participating in the transition should contact Pastor Jimmy Burroughs at 803-309-9390 or email him at [email protected]